US Chamber Responds & We Agree: “More Action!”

When we saw the staff at the US Chamber of Commerce peering outside the windows of their office this morning to watch thousands of people protest their lobbying on climate and energy, we were pretty sure that the message had gotten across. Now, we’re happy to have the proof in the form of a blog post on the US Chamber website.

In the blog, the US Chamber’s go-to-green basher, Ross Eisenberg (hi Ross!), writes:

There’s enough noise rattling around in the energy and climate debate that it sometimes sounds like an off-pitch band marching past your office window (not that the Chamber knows anything about this).  All of this becomes a distraction from the actual work being done in Washington to address energy and climate issues in a commonsense, bipartisan manner.

Glad you enjoyed the marching band, Ross, the security guards in front of the Chamber were so stoic we weren’t sure that you could hear the music. I’m not sure that the band will be too happy to hear that you thought they were off pitch, though. We thought they right on key.

Speaking of on key, the message of today’s event rang loud and clear. The American people know what’s blocking progress on climate and energy isn’t the American people, it’s the US Chamber and the big polluters that fund them. In fact, it’s laugh-out-loud funny to hear the Chamber try and make the case that they’re trying to push forward “actual work” on climate change when they’ve spent the last few months doing little more than attempting to eviscerate the Clean Air Act (not to mention working around the clock last year to stop the climate bill).

But after a good chuckle, let’s dive into that “actual work” the Chamber is talking about. In his blog, Ross highlights a proposed efficiency bill that the Chamber is promoting. He writes:

The bill is called the “Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreements Act of 2011.” This legislation – introduced by both a Democrat and a Republican – promotes energy efficiency without imposing unnecessary costs or burdens on industry.

We’re all for efficiency and we bet some fossil fuel corporations are too. After all, you’d have to be a dinosaur not to want to save money by wasting less energy. But dig a little deeper into the Chamber’s support for this piece of legislation and you’ll see there’s a bit of a subplot contained in that last line about “unnecessary costs and burdens on industry.”

The real motivation for the Chamber supporting this bill, it seems, isn’t to do what’s right for saving energy or the environment, but to keep up their attack on the ability of the government — aka, the people — to protect our communities from industrial polluters.

We’ve been a bit busy here at Power Shift recruiting 10,000 youth from across the country to join our campaign on the chamber, so I haven’t had the chance to dig into S. 398 (the proposed bill), but one line in the Chamber’s letter to members of Congress stands out. It reads, “The federal preemption provided by S. 398 would also reduce the potential for a patchwork of duplicative or conflicting state efficiency standards …” That sounds a lot to me like an attempt to replace tough and ambitious state efficiency standards with a system of voluntary pledges.

Ross concludes his post by writing,

While Congress is on recess this week, some of the anti-business crowd wants to march around Washington mischaracterizing the Chamber’s views on energy and climate issues.  This seems, dare I say, inefficient, as we’re working with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to address these important issues.

So the thousands of businesses — including major corporations like Nike and Apple — that have pulled out of the Chamber to protest its climate policies are anti-business? Apple sure does a lot of business for being part of the anti-business crowd!

And to pick up on Ross’ turn of phrase, the real thing the Chamber is  “efficient” at is pumping more dirty money into the halls of Congress. And that work does happen on both sides of the aisle.

Days like today show that this campaign is having exactly the effect we need it to: the Chamber is quickly being revealed as little more than a front group for corporate polluters. The US Chamber does not represent the voice of American business and by signing up businesses across the country to pull out, we’re making that crystal clear for the world to see.

So in conclusion, we agree Ross! More action is needed on climate change. And that’s exactly what we’re going to deliver. We’ll be in touch.